News: Guard has experienced hands in flood fight
By Spc. Lance Schillinger
BISMARCK, N.D. - The North Dakota National Guard stands ready to protect against a historic flood that threatens central North Dakota. Hundreds of soldiers throw sandbags, walk levees, lay plastic and help in any way needed. For many, this is not their first time fighting a flood.
"I served in the flood fights in Fargo, Grand Forks and Pembina, N.D., in 2009. Again in Fargo in 2010, Davenport in early 2011 and now here in the Bismarck flood for the later 2011," said Sgt. Bryan Odegaard of the 815th Engineer Company (horizontal), from Wishek.
"It's what the Guard is here to do," said Odegaard who grew up in Bismarck and attended Bismarck Century High School. "We protect the homeland."
Shortly after returning home from a tour in Iraq with the 141st Bravo Company of Jamestown, Odegaard married his best friend's sister, Jody, and they started their family.
"We have Kersten, she's now 4, and a little boy on the way within three weeks," said Odegaard. "That's what makes this flood fight so much different, this one's at home."
Odegaard spoke about doing the normal state active duty Guard day, which normally consists of between eight to 14 hours on duty, then going down to the Southport and South Bay area to help his mother and stepfather move out of their homes. Family is everything to Odegaard.
"This flood is so much different than the others that I have worked on," said Odegaard. "It's not as predictable as the others, and I have all my family here this time."
Lt. Col. Brent Naslund, director of military support said, "Our soldiers and airmen are now well experienced at supporting both pre-planned and no-notice responses to large-scale natural disasters. The experience of supporting both types of disasters will certainly help the individual Guardsman to prepare for future operations, should the need arise."
Odegaard, who has served 17 years in the military, 13 of those years in the Guard, reflected on all the different roles that he has played in flood efforts. "I have done Quick Reaction Force (QRF), team leader positions, to just tossing sandbags all day. The Bismarck flood has been more dirt and clay hauling, but we remain flexible and ready," said Odegaard.
The vast number of soldiers here from the Army and Air National Guard units will be here for a number of weeks to properly maintain and assist with any situations that may come about through the flood fighting efforts.
"No one flood operation is the same; the operations conducted along the Red and Sheyenne Rivers is very different from those currently being conducted along the Missouri and Souris. These differences have certainly helped the National Guard be better prepared to support civil authorities throughout the state," said Naslund.